This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Earth’s web of life must be protected, UN chief Guterres tells biodiversity summit
The Earth’s fragile “web of life” must be protected for the good of future generations, for human progress and prosperity.
That’s the message from UN Secretary-General António Guterres, to the UN Summit on Biodiversity, on Wednesday in New York.
In call for action to protect the planet, Mr. Guterres insisted that humanity was instead “waging war on nature”.
His comments come despite repeated international commitments that have failed to see any of the global biodiversity targets agreed a decade ago, met in full for 2020.
Opening the summit, UN General Assembly President, Volkan Bozkir, warned that despite the importance of biodiversity, 13 million hectares of forest are lost every year and one million species are at risk of extinction.
We also risk, he said, jeopardizing food security, water supplies, livelihoods, and our ability to fight diseases and face extreme events.
Ahead of the Biodiversity Summit, more than 60 heads of state made a “Leaders’ Pledge” to halt and reverse nature loss.
Older persons still ‘invisible’ despite pandemic spotlight, says rights expert
A UN-appointed rights expert has warned that older people remain “chronically invisible” in society, despite greater public awareness of their vulnerability during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement, Independent Expert Claudia Mahler said that the health crisis had increased the inequalities that older persons face in accessing healthcare, employment and work.
“In most countries, information about the lived realities of older persons is …fragmented, or non-existent”, she said.
Many countries “lack adequate legislation” to protect their rights and to prevent ageism, discrimination, exclusion, marginalization, violence and abuse, Ms. Mahler added.
Highlighting the contributions of older persons to society, the independent expert explained that they were caregivers, volunteers and community leaders – and their contribution to the COVID-19 response that was often overlooked, should be recognized.
Countries needed to take action to protect the elderly from the “devastating” social and economic impact of COVID-19, Ms. Mahler insisted, noting that older women in particular needed income support.
UN Migration Agency to probe sexual abuse allegations
Allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) involving the International Organization for Migration are to be investigated immediately, it has announced.
IOM said in a statement that it was gravely concerned by media reports of abuse involving aid workers in the DRC during the Ebola crisis, and that the Director General Antonio Vitorino has ordered an inquiry into one worker allegedly involved.
The agency noted that “such abuses by UN personnel and other humanitarian workers” were an “outrageous breach of trust” of the people they were there to support.
It added its determination “to investigate and eradicate…shocking abuses wherever and whenever they occur”.
As an Organization we work constantly to improve our systems to tackle sexual exploitation and abuse, with strengthened reporting tools, staff trainings, and awareness raising across the Organization, the agency said.
Because victims of abuse are sometimes reluctant to come forward, we are committed to improving our reporting mechanisms to ensure confidence in the system, IOM continued, and to make sure th at victims are fully aware that they can report such allegations without fear of retribution.
The development follows detailed allegations following a months-long investigation in the media on Tuesday that men who identified themselves as being with World Health Organization – and other humanitarian organizations - had been accused of sexual abuse by dozens of women in DRC.
Daniel Johnson, UN News